Bud­get to im­pact Indi

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Monique Freer

The Fed­eral Govern­ment de­liv­ered sev­eral elec­tion prom­ises to the elec­torate of Indi last week but pro­vided no di­rect fund­ing to Be­nalla.

An­nounced on Tues­day night, the 2014-15 fed­eral bud­get will run at a $49.9 bil­lion deficit, but in­cludes ma­jor cuts to wel­fare and health to help re­duce the deficit dur­ing the next three years.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Indi Cathy McGowan said the bud­get de­liv­ered on sev­eral elec­tion prom­ises for the elec­torate, but other chan- ges would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on con­stituents.

‘‘I’m re­ally pleased that Indi’s not go­ing to be pun­ished . . . that def­i­nitely didn’t hap­pen,’’ Ms McGowan said.

‘‘It’s the first bud­get. I’m hop­ing that if this is the tough­est bud­get there’ll be more re­lief in the next two.’’

The in­de­pen­dent said she was pleased to see $1.84 mil­lion com­mit­ted to the In­digo Shire Roads pro­gram, $5 mil­lion for the Al­bury Wodonga Health Car­diac Lab­o­ra­tory and $50 000 for the CCTV mo­bile cam­era for Myrtle­ford — all projects promised by for­mer Lib­eral Mem­ber for Indi So­phie Mirabella.

Ms McGowan said the bud­get cov­ered sev­eral of her own elec­tion cam­paign prom­ises, in­clud­ing $100 mil­lion for mo­bile blackspots and men­tal health ser­vices and sup­port, how­ever no fur­ther fund­ing was al­lo­cated to the Na­tional Broad­band Net­work or high speed rail.

Fur­ther­more, she said she was wor­ried about the im­pact the bud­get would have on the health and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tors in re­gional ar­eas.

‘‘I am con­cerned about the im­pact that $7 pa­tient con­tri­bu­tions for GP visits will have on the health sys­tem and al­ready stretched pub­lic hos­pi­tal sys­tem,’’ she said.

‘‘The stats say that al­ready in Indi against na­tional av­er­age we’ve got 10 per cent less bulk billing than in the whole of Aus­tralia and 20 per cent less than the cities.

‘‘Very few peo­ple in Indi have ac­cess to bulk billing so they’re al­ready pay­ing a lot to go to the doc­tor.

‘‘Peo­ple on fixed in­comes will choose to go to emer­gency ser­vices in hos­pi­tals and this will put enor­mous pres­sures on our al­ready highly stretched hos­pi­tal sys­tem.’’

Much of the cuts to health and hos­pi­tal fund­ing will be rein­vested into a med­i­cal re­search fu­ture fund, to reach its tar­get of $20 bil­lion in 2020.

Ms McGowan said she would un­der­take an in­ten­sive process of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion to seek feed­back about the bud­get.

‘‘I want to know from peo­ple around Be­nalla, is the pain worth the gain and will the bud­get do the job?’’ Ms McGowan said.

The in­de­pen­dent will travel around the elec­torate in the com­ing week to host lis­ten­ing posts for com­mu­nity feed­back about the bud­get. Ms McGowan will be in Be­nalla, out­side Mitchell Health Care, Bridge St, from 10.30 am to noon on Satur­day, May 24 be­fore the de­bate starts in par­lia­ment on Mon­day, May 26.

For more in­for­ma­tion, or to pro­vide feed­back, phone Cathy McGowan’s of­fice on 5721 7077 or visit www.cathym­c­gowan.com.au

Open ears: Fed­eral Mem­ber for Indi Cathy McGowan is seek­ing com­mu­nity feed­back about last week’s fed­eral bud­get.

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